His body was in Austin for the autopsy. I received paperwork from the funeral home that I needed to read, sign, notarize and return. All of that had to be completed in order for the cremation to commence.
This transaction would erase my late husband's earthly physical footprint. I was told there was a wait at the crematorium. For crying out loud! Really!? How many people are waiting around to get cremated? Is there something wrong with the machine? I needed the papers signed + returned so that he could be placed in queue. Now that’s a foreign concept to digest.
I drove to my local credit union and sat in the car signing the remaining pages in my stack. I gathered my things and made my way into the lobby. This was one of my first outings since everything happened. I didn’t walk the same. I was slow. Every step was labored. I know I looked like a shell of a woman. At least I was clean. That was one thing I kept up. My face was broken out terribly though. And I smelled like an ashtray most likely. Not sure I had on any make up.
I signed in. In the space where it requests which service you need I wrote – notary. My name was spoken with a thick Russian accent. My eyes landed upon a blonde woman who looked mean as hell. Oh my. I followed her around the corner of the service desk. She stood about 6 feet tall.
I was uneasy. I thought…
“Hi, yes, can you please notarize this paperwork so I can get my dead husband’s remains sent back to me ASAP? Thank you.”
It was just weird. Uncomfortable. And incredibly sad.
I watched her read the first page. The hardness in her face softened. That was ok (unlike the pity oozing from the detective who interviewed me). She flipped through the pages and began asking questions. I looked at her. I did not speak a word. Tears poured down my face. She grabbed my hand and took me to her office. After closing her door she opened a cabinet and pulled out a small ratty-looking book with post-its sticking out and bookmarks all through it.
She put the book in my hand. It was her Bible. She opened it and turned to a passage that speaks of God taking care of widows and being a Father to the fatherless. I just nodded. I couldn’t see with all the tears. She pushed a tissue box to the corner of the desk so I could reach. I sopped up the goo all over my face and she finished the paperwork. I mumbled thank you and she hugged me.
Compassion like this carried me through the nightmare. Gone are the days of judging someone for looking like a complete disaster, questioning someone's mental state or thinking I am somehow untouchable.
I was the scary, lost woman. And many, many people took me in and cared for me like this stranger did. I am forever thankful and will continue to share the love by paying it forward.
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*Photo credit: Elsa Noblet